It can happen to everyone to drink an extra glass, but constantly exceeding the limit can cause very serious damage to the heart, brain and liver. Let’s see how to recognize alcohol abuse in time and when it is necessary to consult a specialist.
Prevention and awareness
According to the World Health Organization’s Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2018, alcohol use in 2016 caused approximately 3 million deaths worldwide, or 5.3% of all deaths. And 5.1% of the years of life lost due to illness, disability or premature death are attributable to alcohol.
More than three-quarters of the deaths occurred among men.
We speak of alcoholism or alcohol abuse when there is an inability, on the part of the drinker, to refrain from consuming large quantities of alcohol, compromising their psycho-social behavior and developing addiction.
The alcoholic loses control over his drinking habit and develops physical and psychological problems, as well as tolerance and abstinence. Let’s see together what are the damages that can result from a high intake of alcoholic substances.
The effects of alcohol on health
1.The diagnosis of alcoholism
2.Damage to the brain
3.Damage to the liver
4.Damage to the heart
5.The psychological damage
The diagnosis of alcoholism
In order to make a diagnosis of alcoholism, according to the DSM-5, it is necessary to recognize at least 2 of the following symptoms for a period of not less than 12 months:
- drinking more alcohol or for longer periods than the person intended
- constant desire to drink alcohol or failures in an attempt to reduce alcohol intake
much of the time of the day is spent drinking, recovering from alcohol, or managing intoxication symptoms (hangover effects)
- the subject feels an urgent and uncontrollable urge to drink (craving)
- the use of alcohol leads to failures in fulfilling their responsibilities at home, at work or at school
- maintains the use of alcohol despite this causing recurring social problems
- important activities are abandoned to make room for the use of alcohol
- alcohol is used in situations where it is physically dangerous to do so
continuous use of alcohol even after the appearance of psychological or social problems attributable to alcohol abuse
- development of alcohol tolerance manifested by a significant increase in the amount of alcohol necessary to satisfy the alcoholic need
- presence of withdrawal symptoms or behaviors not to experience withdrawal symptoms
Damage to the brain
At low doses, areas of the brain are activated in which the release of endorphins occurs, thus generating that feeling of pleasure that you get when you are tipsy. With increasing doses, however, the effect on the central nervous system is depressant, since the function of some excitatory neurotransmitters is inhibited, especially glutamate, slowing down brain activity with a decrease in self-control, deficit learning and impaired judgment. Brain atrophy and polyneuritis are also observed.
Damage to the liver
The liver is the most damaged organ, since alcohol metabolism occurs at this level. The damage to this organ is getting worse. We can observe:
- Fatty liver: a buildup of triglycerides in the liver. Often asymptomatic condition but reversible with the suspension of alcohol intake.
- Alcoholic hepatitis: inflammation of the liver caused by alcohol abuse.
- Fibrosis: scarring process that occurs where hepatitis is not intervened.
- Cirrhosis: degeneration of the fibrosis process. Completely irreversible. It can lead to liver cancer.